You’d actually go so far as to say that you weren’t excited by drum and bass any more?
I probably wasn’t, no. I’ve been DJing for twenty five years now – it’s difficult to get excited about things when you’ve been doing it so long. Without actually knocking drum and bass – because that’s the last thing I wanna do – it’s half a dozen to a dozen producers whose music I really like, and the rest of it I don’t. Your job’s almost done for you because you know who to ask for music, you know which ones are gonna be good. The excitement of finding and hearing something new that you’re into isn’t like it used to be. When you get to the top – I’m not saying I’m… top’s not the right word but, when you become established – you’re not chasing anybody, there’s nobody above you.
Drum and bass is half a dozen to a dozen producers whose music I really like, and the rest of it I don’t.
I remember years ago it was people like Photek and Dillinja – I wanted their stuff but I couldn’t get my hands on it. Obviously they’re not doing what they were doing years ago anyway, but there’s not that many people that are so high up they’ve taken their place, and even if they have I can get their music before most people anyway. With house and techno there’s stuff I’ll never be able to get, then there’s stuff which you can only buy on vinyl, limited stuff where you’ve got to get out there record shopping again. It’s all exciting in that respect. Then there’s certainly lots of producers out there where it’s like, ‘How the fuck are they doing that? That’s amazing,’ so there’s targets, people to chase, a lot more to accomplish. It’s not just about picking people because they’re popular, but because you think their music’s fucking amazing, whereas with drum and bass some of the stuff that’s out there now which is the cream of the crop isn’t exactly the kind of sound I’m into.
You’re talking a lot about DJing, but in terms of production how much has that put you out of your comfort zone in the studio?
A hell of a lot. I’ve had to buy quite a lot of new stuff. I’ve never really been sonically brilliant as a producer – back in the day when I worked with ST Files he was the man who did the mixdowns and got the sound of the beats right. I’m still never confident with the sound of my beats – I always find them fucking difficult to do. It took me a year, a year and a half to get used to the different feel of it. Through the years I’ve very rarely had the chance to go out and hear DJs play [house and techno] on proper sound systems because I’ve been out myself playing drum and bass, so it’s really hard to get a real grasp of what it’s all about. It’s only since I’ve started gigging more [as Trevino] and I’ve really had a chance to hang around and hear things and spend more time making it that I’m starting to understand how it’s made. At first I didn’t have a fucking clue.
Getting it right sonically has always been the most difficult thing in all forms of dance music, I think. The transition from drum and bass to another sound is sonically hard. It was never hard in terms of writing music. Some of the first music that came out as Trevino has been in me for fucking years waiting to get out, and I guess that’s why I was quite prolific at the beginning. Some of those records were tributes to producers I used to be into in ’88, ’89, ’90.
Which ones in particular?
Obviously ‘Juan Two Five’, which was a nod to Juan Atkins. ‘Backtracking’ was a slight nod to Fingers and that sort of late 80s house. ‘Derelict’ is a Derrick May kind of thing, something like ‘The Dance’ from ’87, ’88. It was all stuff that I fucking loved playing back in the day. That was the most exciting period because it was all beginning then. It was like, ‘Fuck me, what is this stuff?’ It was the beginning of rave, the Hacienda, all that stuff, so I guess you can understand why I’m so into it – because I saw it all. I guess that music’s just been sat there inside me waiting to be made. And it’s not original. None of it’s original. But it just felt like it was the right time to do it.
How’s the reception to the Trevino stuff been from the hardcore Intalex fans?
Pretty good, to be fair. If you go back maybe ten years people would have been offended. ‘What you doing making house music? It’s shit!’ But the whole attitude of music listeners has all changed since the iPod generation and all that. People aren’t necessarily as devout about one type of music. A few years ago I’d have been a bit afraid to do it, in terms of a career move and the way people perceive you. These days that’s not an issue for me any more. I have my Intalex fans and I think a lot of them probably are Trevino fans. It’s not like it used to be, that’s for sure.
Was it always essential for you to use a different name for the project?
Only for one particular reason: I didn’t want to play techno gigs and have people coming up to me asking for drum and bass. That was the only real reason. I’m happy for people to know it’s me – that’s not an issue at all – but it would drive me fucking bonkers if people asked me for drum and bass tunes in the middle of a techno club, so let’s just make that split known.
You’ve managed to avoid that then?
Yeah, pretty much. There’s always one joker, but 99.9% of the time…
A few years ago I’d have been a bit afraid to do it.
You’ve talked about the different challenges involved with moving from one style to another but how much of what you were doing in drum and bass crosses over? What kind of skills and approaches apply directly?
I’ve never really thought of it like that… I suppose it’s almost like a love of the future – trying to do something that’s forward thinking and keep moving forward. Drum and bass was always about that and that’s what really appealed to me back in the beginning. It sounded like it had been made on another planet. That’s really the main thing, doing something that’s forward thinking.